In Grant v. Torstar Corp. 2009 SCC 61, the Supreme Court of Canada modified the law of defamation to provide greater protection for communications on matters of public interest. One of the factors relates to the concept of “reportage,” which are statements attributed to someone other than their publisher. The ruling stated the “repetition rule” (which is that a person who repeats a defamatory statement made by another is just as liable as the maker of the statement)did not apply to reportage on a matter of public interest, provided that four prerequisites are satisfied: namely, the statement is attributed to a person; the report indicates its truth has not been verified; the report sets out both sides fairly;and the context of the statement is provided.
But Justice Tysoe held, even if the reportage exception is made out for some statements in the publication, “it is still necessary to determine whether the publication was responsible because the defence is to be applied to the publication as a whole.”
“[Justice Dardi] applied the Grant responsibility factors to the statement in isolation and the publication the
The court then allowed Canwest’s appeal, and also dismissed a
Daniel W. Burnett of Owen Bird Law Corporation, who represented Canwest and O’Connor, said the case is important in terms of how the responsible communication defence is applied. He noted, while the Supreme Court in the Grant case referred briefly to the need to take an overall approach, this was the first case which grapples in more detail with a situation where a judge says she will deal with one piece of a story differently.
“The whole point of the responsible communication
But James Straith, who represented Wilson, said the decision “seems to extend the reportage
“The question that was being asked in the Court of Appeal was if you’ve got five chapters in a book and one is completely fictitious, can you even sue on that one chapter anymore?” he said. “Because they can say we got four of the five chapters right, so we win. I just find not just the outcome of this case but the wider implication of this kind of journalism getting the green light to be disturbing.”
Burnett said he didn’t share Straith’s concerns, saying the decision made it quite clear reportage doesn’t stand as a
Howard Winkler of Winkler Dispute Resolution noted there has been a trend in recent cases and in litigation such as anti-SLAPP measures to balance interests more towards freedom of expression rather than protection of one’s reputation.
“What was significant about the development of this responsible communication
Winkler said Straith has a point about his concerns surrounding the reportage
“And if the court properly undertakes that analysis then the media shouldn’t be able to just throw in frivolous and perhaps false allegations into what otherwise would be a matter of public interest it,” he said. “If that happens then hopefully what the court would decide is what they’ve thrown in constitutes a separate charge and treat it separately. In this
The B.C. Appeal Court ruling on responsible communication tips balance in favour of free expression: lawyer article was published by The Lawyer’s Daily on December 4, 2018